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Frequently Asked Questions


Updated October 13, 2020

Current Students

Coping Support

What support is the Graduate School offering to help students cope with COVID-19?

The Graduate Academic Counselor is available to consult with students (and faculty/staff) about mental health. They can provide referrals to campus and other resources. Contact them by e-mail here. The Graduate School Ombudsperson is available to all students with questions or concerns related to their graduate experience. They can help resolve conflict and promote fair and equitable treatment within the university.

May I stay in College Park?

Yes. If you stay in off-campus housing, please observe Governor Hogan’s Stay at Home Order and recommendations for social distancing.

Thesis & Dissertation Defenses

How do I submit a request for a remote thesis or dissertation defense? 

The Dean has proactively approved all requests for a remote defense for the 2020-2021 academic year, so committee chairs do not currently need to submit a request for a remote thesis or dissertation defense. All thesis and dissertation committee chairs are instead required to submit a request for the electronic Report of Examining Committee (REC) form.  A request for the REC must be made at least 10 business days before the scheduled defense. Starting on October 10, 2020 all thesis and dissertation defenses are required to submit this request via the following  

How do I submit a request for the electronic Report of Examining Committee (REC)?

The committee chair (or designee) should submit this request for the REC via the following form:  All thesis and dissertation defense requests should submit a request for the REC at least 10 business days ahead of the defense.  For more information about this process, please go here:

I see the Graduate School has a policy about remote thesis and dissertation defenses. What if I am defending my dissertation proposal?

The prospectus defense is a program requirement, not a Graduate School requirement. The Graduate School recommends that programs follow the same guidelines for remote defense for the prospectus defense. There is no need to request permission from the Graduate School, but directors of graduate study should ensure equitable and consistent treatment of all students in their programs. 

What are my options for my thesis or dissertation defense?

If there are in-person classes meeting on campus, defenses can be in-person or remote. We encourage you to consult the KeepTeaching website, and our guide to conducting remote defenses. All graduate students who are ready to defend should defend this semester so that they don't incur additional tuition costs or delay their graduation. For more information about the Remote Thesis/Dissertation defense in a public health emergency, please go here:

What if a graduate student needs to delay their thesis or dissertation defense for a semester? Can the Graduate School waive the fees and tuition? Can academic deadlines get pushed back?

The Graduate School recommends proceeding as scheduled rather than to defer defenses. 

Academic and Professional Support

What kind of academic support is available to me? 

We have moved as many of our programs and services online as we can. The Graduate School Writing Center has moved all of its appointments online. They are also holding Drop-In Hours on on Wednesday and Thursday from 12-3pm on Zoom. No advance registration is required: 

Doctoral students and postdocs can access career development related resources, events, and individual appointments online. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate School by email: or phone: 301-405-3644. 


How will my research activity be affected?

Consult, which will be updated by the UMD Division of Research if circumstances change.

I am a graduate assistant at an off-campus laboratory/workplace. Do the UMD guidelines around COVID-19 for graduate assistants apply to me? What about if I have concerns about my work and the outbreak?

The Graduate School advises graduate assistants to discuss their concerns or situation with their supervisor. Guidance about telework and leave, social distance measures for those who will continue to work on campus, and other related workplace issues, is outlined in University Human Resources' Working Through COVID-19

Can I still go to campus and use my lab as a quiet place to work?
Not necessarily, and not without permission. Access to buildings needs to follow the same guidance, procedures, and safeguards currently in place for everyone. Graduate students should monitor for updates on campus status and the most recent safety guidelines, and use the same processes as faculty for requesting access during times of restricted research activity. 

Graduate Assistants 

What is being done to ensure my safety in the classroom? 

The University has taken steps to minimize the risk of infection for both students and instructors, including teaching assistants, in in-person and blended courses. These include the use of face coverings, distancing, and disinfecting, in compliance with the recommendations of Federal, State, and local health authorities. Visit for details and safety training.

What if I am a teaching assistant who does not want to work in-person?  

If a graduate student is unwilling or unable to serve as a teaching assistant for an in-person or blended course, the department should make best efforts to find an alternative assignment for an online course, or a graduate assistantship that does not require an on-campus presence. We realize that it may not always be possible to find an alternative assignment. In particular, departments should make every effort to honor all written funding commitments. 

What happens if I get COVID-19?  

COVID-19 should be treated as all other illness. Absence due to illness is covered by the policy at (see “Time away from duties, absence due to illness.) Beginning this semester, all graduate students must have health insurance; if you are enrolled in Kaiser or the CareFirst or United EPOs, the cost of treatment should be completely covered, except for nominal co-pays for office visits and medication.  

Will I receive PPE?  

Your department will provide you with the appropriate PPE.

Will the campus hiring freeze affect Graduate Assistants?

The hiring freeze does not apply to graduate assistantships, and the Provost has stated that departments should honor all written commitments to provide a graduate assistantship (GA). If you have been offered a GA appointment for next year, it may go forward as planned. Please check with the person who offered the GA to make sure funding for the appointment is still available. All graduate assistants must reside in the United States at the time of the appointment.

International Students

I am an international student, how will all of this affect me?

Please visit the ISSS' FAQ page for updated answers and resources specifically related to your needs and concerns as an international student.

Can international students, as well as domestic students currently living abroad, hold a graduate assistantship if their teaching or research duties can be performed remotely?

No, you must reside in the United States to be appointed as a graduate assistant. Contact your graduate program to inquire about whether you are able to continue coursework and thesis or dissertation research while you are abroad and, if so, if your program is able to offer assistance to cover the cost of tuition. For other immigration and visa questions, please contact International Student & Scholar Services.

Financial Concerns 

I am having trouble accessing and affording food. Are there any resources for me?

The UMD Campus Food Pantry is here to help! For more information on how to access the pantry, please go here:  

I am having a hard time financially. Is there anything available to support me?

Please visit for information on how to apply for emergency assistance.

When will I receive my subsistence payment?

The Financial Service Center is still processing subsistence payments for Graduate Students, but since the campus mailing system is not fully operational, and the Office of Student Financials and Cashiering is closed to the public, graduate students who do not currently have direct deposit will need to sign up for direct deposit to receive those payments/refunds. Students can enroll in direct deposit through the website

Fellowships, Awards & Competitions

I applied for a travel award from the Graduate School. Will I be reimbursed if I don't attend the conference?

First, seek a refund of any registration or travel expenses.  If your expenses are non-refundable, please contact your department or program about reimbursement. The Graduate School will share the cost of reimbursement with your department or program for the Goldhaber awards. The Graduate School will reimburse the cost of non-refunded conference registration fees for the ICSSA awards.  

What is the status of the 3MT Competition?

You may view the winners of the 2020 3MT competition here. Stay tuned for information about the 2021 competition. 

When will other fellowship and award competitions take place?

Answer: Bookmark the Fellowships and Awards page for 2020/2021 competitions. 

Faculty & Advisors 

I am a faculty member advising a graduate student doing research and teaching abroad. Do I need to require that student to return to the United States?

Anyone abroad should follow the CDC recommendations, which are summarized at The guidance related to Education Abroad is most relevant to students who are overseas for other purposes.

Parking & Transportation 

Where can I park? 

DOTS will transition back to an active parking program on August 3. Visit their Fall 2020 Parking Transition Guide for information about maintaining or suspending your permit, parking availability, and daily parking options. For information about parking reimbursement, 

Is Shuttle-UM available? 

Shuttle-UM service resumes the Fall 2020 semester on Monday, August 24. Visit the ShuttleUM website for new passenger procedures and precautions, cleaning protocols, and service updates. 

Applicants and Incoming Students

I am an international student who has been offered admission to a graduate program for Fall 2020. What will happen if travel restrictions are still in place, or if I am unable to obtain a visa?

We know there is great uncertainty around the future of international travel and visas. We cannot predict at this time what the impact will be, but please rest assured that the University is actively working on a range of strategies to support all of our international students. Please direct all questions to ISSS.

What do I do if I want to defer my admission to a later semester?

You should email your program for details on deferring admission.

I want to apply to the University of Maryland and I need to submit an English proficiency score, but testing centers for the TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE are closed in my area. What can I do?
During the COVID-19 Pandemic we will be accepting the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, the IELTS Indicator, the IELTS Academic Online, and the PTE Academic Online as we would accept a regular iBT TOEFL, IELTS Academic, or PTE Academic.  These tests can be taken online from home. We will be accepting these test types through Fall 2023.